Photo: Boycott Hate
A national network of organizations instrumental in coordinating the boycott in Arizona after controversial anti-immigrant legislation passed there in 2009 has sent a letter to Governor Deal of Georgia “notifying [him] of efforts underway to organize a national boycott of Georgia, in the event that Georgia’s Arizona copycat legislation—HB 87 and SB 40—should become law. “
The National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) and The Turning the Tide campaign sent the letter via facsimile early this morning. B. Loewe, a spokesperson for the organization, said “We are currently prepared to contact all conventions, organizations, companies, cities, counties, and states that participated in the Arizona boycott to advise them of the current status of Georgia’s legislation and tell them to be ready to change plans, divest, and/or issue travel alerts to avoid the state of Georgia.”
B. Loewe said that various organizations and community members of Georgia, including the SomosGeorgia/WeAreGeorgia campaign, notified them of the efforts by Georgia’s Republicans to drive immigrants out of the state. NDLON and Turning the Tide will wait for those groups to give the go-ahead in the event that the bills pass and the Governor does not issue a veto.
Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort said he and others will give just such a go-ahead. “If House bill 87 passes and the Governor refuses to veto it, we, in Georgia, will call for a boycott. These laws have devastating effects on families, students, workers, and entire communities. People of good conscience will find other places for their vacations and conventions until this state gets back on the right side of history.”
The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force is in support of the boycott, and also sent a letter to Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, stressing that “should the State of Georgia follow Arizona down a regrettable path to codifying anti-immigrant bias in its laws, we would be forced to reconsider our choice of venue and host city for the 2013 Creating Change Conference.” Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people living in Georgia will be disproportionately affected by increased ‘identity’ policing.
Supporters of the boycott state that Georgia has historically thrived in part because it’s a state with some of the largest and most minority-owned businesses in the Southern region. These businesses in particular will suffer economically if immigrant communities and people of color are driven out.
Referring to the recent New York Times report that Arizona had, less than six months after passage of the controversial HB1070, lost $45 million in convention revenue and stands to lose upwards of $750 million overall, Paulina Hernandez, co-Director of Southerners on New Ground said “A boycott will undoubtedly hurt the state of Georgia as it did the state of Arizona and our Governor will be squarely to blame if he does not do the right thing and commit to vetoing these anti-immigrant bills.”
Georgia Representative Virgil Fludd (D-66) commented on the economic impact of multiple pieces of legislation pending in the legislature. “Republican are proposing to turn down $175 million in unemployment benefits from the federal government for over 20,000 Georgians who are currently unemployed and looking for work. The current tax proposal we will be voting on next week has a fiscal note of $200 million—creating a massive hole in the state’s budget. Should an anti-immigrant Arizona style law pass, and a boycott ensue, the economic impact will simply be devastating. Georgia has always been known as a business friendly state and HB 87 is not business friendly. We cannot afford this.”
Members of the faith and nonprofit communities have also opposed HB 87 stating that provisions of this legislation create new, significant criminal and civil liabilities that will chill the work of communities of faith across Georgia who provide critical physical and spiritual support to some of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities.